Pellegrino eyes up Van Dijk stay
Southampton head coach Mauricio Pellegrino retains some hope that he can persuade defender Virgil van Dijk to stay with the club this season.
The 26-year-old Netherlands international handed in a transfer request at St Mary's earlier this week, with Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City all reported to be interested in the former Celtic centre-back.
Virgil is an important player and we need him focused on our club.Mauricio Pellegrino
However, Pellegrino has not entirely given up on the player, with Van Dijk ruled out by illness for the Premier League opener at home to Swansea City on Saturday.
"Virgil is an important player and we need him focused on our club," Pellegrino told reporters.
"My reaction is the same that I said three weeks ago - we are expecting him to come back, to train with us because we need the players, we need all of them.
"Hopefully he can change his point of view. We can decide our dynamic inside this club and Virgil is part of our club on a good contract."
Meanwhile, Pellegrino is confident that both of his summer signings will be valuable additions to the Saints squad.
Defender Jan Bednarek has joined from Lech Poznan, while Gabon international midfielder Mario Lemina has been recruited from Italian champions Juventus.
"Jan is a young player who I think can adapt to the Premier League, while Mario is a player who has come from one of the biggest clubs in the world," Pellegrino added.
"Both can help us to be stronger."
Southampton are 4/7 to make a winning start to their season against Swansea and are 13/2 to claim a 2-0 victory on home turf, while Manolo Gabbiadini is available at 9/2 to score the first goal of the game.
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